Complexes: Deceptively Simple, Incredibly Effective

Through grueling periods of strength training, you work hard for your muscles. But, when it comes to cardio, which is a must for the track & field athlete, you’re forced to rely on a delicate balancing act since too much cardio can actually destroy your muscle mass. Even in the case of the casual exerciser or fitness enthusiast looking to build their beach body for the summer, this can be a difficult transition. Everything tells you that cardio is the way to burn fat and revel your muscles, but the same threat of losing muscle is still present.

Complexes, a unique take on circuit training, may just provide the solution. What are complexes? Can they help you build your cardiovascular endurance while maintaining strength and muscle mass?

Complexes Defined

Simply put, a complex is a string of exercises performed using a single piece of a equipment with no rest between each movement. So you might perform six deadlifts, then with the same weight on the same bar, immediately perform six squats and then move on to the next exercise.

Complexes can also be tailored to your training. For instance, incorporating explosive plyometric movements, discussed in a past post found here, can be particularly beneficial for improve cardiovascular efficiency. By including exercises specific to your sport, you can fully benefit from complexes. Try to focus on movements that mimic those of your sport to build up the most important muscles for you.

Why Use Complexes?

More than strength training or cardiovascular training alone, complexes have the ability to improve your athletic performance on a number of levels.

For one thing, because your muscles are being challenged, they will continue to grow and act as the calorie burning engines that they are. The metabolic activity of stimulated muscles, especially when you work your entire body as in the case of a complex, will go a long way in controlling your weight.

Complexes also easily replace interval training since the fast-pace involves the entire cardiovascular system. While a runner can totally remove running from his or her training schedule, complexes could allow you to incorporate strength and/or plyometric training without sacrificing your speed and endurance. In fact, complexes will complement your cardio training.

But a properly programmed a timed warm-up consisting of a complex has even been shown to improve power output from the muscles during competition. This is because the resistance provided by complexes prime the nervous system for the actual sport. This is particularly effective for ballistic athletes like throwers and sprinters.

How To Do It

One of the most popular and effect complexes was created by fitness expert Alwyn Cosgrove and is affectionately called “Cosgrove’s Evil 8.” The exercises that make up the Evil 8 are, in order:

Romanian Deadlift
Bentover Row
Power Clean
Front Squat
Push Press
Back Squat
Good Morning

Again, each exercise is performed with the same amount of weight on a barbell. To start, perform six reps of each, moving seamlessly to the next. When you’re done rest for a whole 90 seconds and do it again, this time performing 5 reps. Continue this routine, with the same rest period, working down to three,two and then just one final lift with each exercise.

Have you used complexes in your training? Please share your experience with us in the comments!







This entry was posted in Uncategorized by jonathan.thompson. Bookmark the permalink.

About jonathan.thompson

Jonathan Thompson is a Certified Personal Trainer and Running Coach with the American Council on Exercise, specializing in nutrition. In addition to his real-world experience working with clients, his articles and blogs on fitness advice have been published on many websites and magazines.